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Millionaire's Davies looks homeward

Michael Davies, the executive producer of ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, originally spotted the popular quiz show on British TV and helped bring it across the pond. Now Davies, a Brit himself, says he is looking to open a studio back in England.

Last week, Davies announced his American-based studio Diplomatic Productions was officially opening facilities in New York and Los Angeles. Next year, he wants to open shop in London. "We are extremely ambitious in terms of expansion, we want to make a lot of television programs and not just in America," says Davies, whose studio also produces ESPN's Two Minute Drill. "We want to be able to look at British television like we do the American TV market."

Davies says he wants to produce both fiction and non-fiction programming. In the U.S., Davies is required to give both ABC and co-owned Buena Vista TV a first-look at any network or first-run syndicated show. And when will Millionaire come to local stations in syndication? "I don't know about next year, but I think it will be in the next few years," says Davies. "It's obviously going to be there at some point, though."

In terms of Millionaire's four episodes a week on ABC, Davies says that will likely change next season. "I would suspect we are going to go down to three episodes, but I think ABC will start using the show as almost a weapon down the road. If there is a half-hour debate, we could do a half-hour special episode, if its sweeps we could a certain theme. That's how I see it evolving." - Joe Schlosser